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Volker neighbors concerned car key fobs are being hacked

Posted at 10:00 PM, Oct 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-30 23:19:15-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Last month Anna Nedeau's car was broken into outside her home in the Volker neighborhood. There were no broken windows, no signs someone had forcibly entered.

"I knew I had locked my car, so I was really confused," she said. 

That's when Nedeau took to social media, searching the neighborhood watch groups of which she's a member. People in Volker, the West Plaza and Hyde Park were all posting about similar car break-ins. 

Several members devised a theory. Could signal attacks be happening in Kansas City?

That's the name for a method thieves use to break into cars. Armed with devices purchased online, they intercept the signals on key fobs. The crooks can then gain entry to your car, no smashing of windows required.

While rare, signal attacks have been caught on camera both overseas, in England, and in the states. 

"I know there have been a few random cases on the east coast and west coast, but we haven't heard anything in Kansas City," Joshua Roudebush of McGuire Lock said.

While he was skeptical signal attacks are to blame, Roudebush said a much less high-tech method is more likely being used. Thieves are simply going online to buy lockout kits.

"Everyone from law enforcement, locksmiths, to tow truck drivers to even just your common person who wants to start a lockout company can acquire them without having licensing," he said.

Experts say keyless fobs that are always on are most at risk for hacking. They recommend putting those in a metal container.

Nedeau, her husband and her neighbors are using tin boxes. 

"We just put everything in there," she said. 

Nedeau doesn't have a keyless fob but said even if the special box isn't a perfect solution, it solves at least one problem in her household.

"If nothing else, it's a way to not lose our keys," Nedeau said.

41 Action News also spoke with Frankie Bellucci, a smart technology expert.

"We have to be proactive, not reactive. We must not become fearful of technology," he said.

Bellucci offered this advice on the risk of signal attacks:

  • Never leave any valuable items in your car, glove box or trunk
  • If you're really concerned, you can buy a Faraday bag for your fob
  • Have security cameras professionally installed at your property